The 2016-2017 season will be an interesting one for the Golden Hurricane. They will have a lot of new faces, but we still don’t really know what the team will look like. What we do know now, is their 2016-2017 non-conference opponents.
The non-conference is highlighted by home games vs Oregon State and Oklahoma State, and road trips to Wichita State, Oral Roberts, and Arkansas Little Rock. Tulsa will also be competing in the always exciting Diamond Head Classic, December 22nd-25th in Hawaii. The field for the tournament includes Utah, San Diego State, Hawaii, Stephen F. Austin, and others.
Tulsa has home games vs Jacksonville State, New Orleans, Oregon State, Illinois State, OSU, and Texas State. In addition to that 6-game home schedule, they’ll travel to Wichita State, Oral Roberts, and Arkansas Little Rock.
The game I am most excited for is the contest vs the Cowboys on Saturday, December 10th in the Reynolds Center. Oklahoma State will have a new coach and offense, and the Cowboys will want revenge after the Golden Hurricane beat them on their home floor last season. The timing for this game is perfect, the students will still be in school, and all the fans in the Tulsa area and beyond will be able to travel to the game without having to get up for work or school the next day. It will be an electric environment.
The timing is less great for the Oregon State game, they’ll be in town Tuesday, November 22nd. At this point the students will be out-of-town for Thanksgiving Break, but it will be a great game nonetheless as TU tries to avenge their loss to Oregon State from a season ago. Also, I originally heard this game was going to be played in the BOK center, but all reports have said the game will be in Reynolds Center. I would definitely be in favor of Tulsa moving the game to the BOK.
The trip to Wichita State will be a tough one, and it’s only Tulsa’s second game. This will be the first real challenge for the young inexperienced players, but the Shockers will also be tasked with replacing their senior leaders. This will also be Shocker’s transfer Corey Henderson Jr.’s return to Wichita.
The remaining road games are against foes that defeated TU in Tulsa last season, Oral Roberts and Arkansas Little Rock. Tulsa desperately needs to win the Mayor’s Cup this year after losing 3 years in a row, but they will have to do it in the Mabee Center on Monday, November 28th.
The Trojans of UALR lost their head coach Chris Beard after posting an incredible 30-5 record last season.
All three of Tulsa’s road games will give the Golden Hurricane a quality test, and a chance to bolster their tournament resume.
The Diamond Head Classic always produces good games, especially recently because Hawaii has resurged their program. The field this year may lack an “elite team” (sorry Utah), but it still contains quality opponents that will give Tulsa challenging tests. The timing will also give TU basketball national attention, as the tournament is covered by ESPN.
Overall, it is a great non-conference schedule. It gives Tulsa’s young and inexperienced team chances to grow and gain experience before conference play begins. Coach Haith will have his hands full trying to get Tulsa to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances for the first time since 2003, but with their challenging non-conference, and the strength of the American Conference, Tulsa will have plenty of chances to play their way in.